Saturday, February 13, 2016

Diabetes - An Update + Tips and Resources

Back in October, I revealed that I had been diagnosed with Type II diabetes earlier in 2015, and explaining how I was dealing with it as a "prepper." Today, I'm giving an update on my situation, plus a few tips and resources based on my experiences and what I've learned.

My Current State of Health

Fortunately, my current state of health is much improved. After almost eight months of effort, I have gotten my morning (fasting) glucose levels down to the 120s most mornings, and occasionally as low as 104. My after meal spikes in glucose now are typically in the 140s or 150s. Though I still need bring down my numbers a bit more, this is a tremendous improvement over last June, when most of my morning readings were in the 240s, and my after meal spikes often were over 350 (dangerously high).

I am not on insulin. I am controlling my diabetes through changes in my diet and lifestyle, losing weight (I've lost almost 30 pounds), and oral medication. My doctor has already taken me off one of the oral medications, and we are working towards getting off the second within the next few months, ultimately controlling my diabetes strictly through diet and lifestyle.

My eyesight, which was badly damaged (see my previous article), has responded very well with treatment (which, unfortunately, was a series of six monthly injections into my eyes). I will be undergoing one last treatment in two weeks, laser surgery to stop three leaking capillaries in one of my eyes.

Dietary Changes

After talking to my doctors, doing a whole lot of research, and after very carefully monitoring the effect of individual foods on my blood sugar levels, I have made two permanent changes to my diet: 1) I avoid almost all added sugar in foods. It is stunning how many of our foods have added sugar, and how much sugar is actually added. Food companies use many different names for sugar in order to hide how much is added to our food. 2) I have cut all potatoes and all grain products from my diet, including all pasta, bread, crackers, cereals, oatmeal, rice, corn, etc. I found that even the so-called "good grains" - whole grains - have a devastating effect on my blood sugar diabetes. In addition, my research on healthy vs. unhealthy diets has convinced me that the current USDA recommended diet, of which grains are the foundation, is based not on science, but rather on lobbying from Big AgriBusiness. Grains, even whole grains, are not a particularly healthy food.

There is a lot I can write about food and diet, but I will save most of that for future articles.

Tips and Resources

1) A good doctor is extremely important. Don't settle for a pill-pusher who just wants to write you a prescription and forget about you until your next appointment in three months. My first doctor was this way and I fired her (yes, you can fire your doctor). Instead find a doctor who will work with you to improve your underlying health, not just to cover your symptoms with medication. My current doctor has set a goal of getting me off diabetes medication by getting me to the point of controlling my diabetes through diet and lifestyle changes. I am already off of one of the two medications I was originally given. PLEASE NOTE: Everyone's health is unique to them. You may or may not be able to get off your medications, which is why you need to work closely with your doctor.

2) Take your health seriously. Diabetes can have major complications. You need to work hard and aggressively at overcoming your diabetes and improving your health. Don't just settle for controlling your symptoms, work towards improving your health.

3) Monitor your  blood sugar closely. Everyone's body is a little different, and will responded differently to various foods. There is no "one size fits all" plan when it comes to your health. Learn for yourself how certain foods affect your blood sugar. 

4)  Learn all the many, many, many different names for sugar. Our food supply has lots and lots of sugar added to it, and the food industry hides much of it by using a variety of different names for sugar, often using several different names on the same food label to how the true sugar content. Although there are many different types of sugar, they all are still sugar, and too much is very bad for you.

5) Of all the books I've read so far, the best and most useful is 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar by Dennis Pollock. Pollock's book is an aggressive plan to contol your blood sugar by bring together the best of traditional and alternative medicine. What I apprechiate about Pollock's approach is that it is based on solid science, even the "alternative" aspects, and is not some hippy-dippy book that rejects science (avoid those). Also, his ideas are easy to follow.

6) My doctor recommended the book Life Without Bread by Dr. Christian B. Allan, and Dr. Wolfgang Lutz. This book presents a low-carbohydrate diet (but one not as severe as the Atkin's Diet) as the best healthy diet for everyone, especially people dealing with high blood sugar. Right now, based on my own experiences and everything else I've read, I think they are right about their low-carbohydrate diet.

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